Date: Saturday, June 17, 1995 9:37AM

Subject: 9 AM

No Virginia, there is not really a Santa Claus...

I hear these words as though I were still there.

McTropolis...KumBayYa, I was still in McTropolis.

As the haze cleared from my groggy head I became aware of the environment around me; the buzzing machines, the fake flowers, the innocuous little toys to remind people that although they don't actually live here, they still live here on some level. I slowly came to realize that the world I had ignored, passed off as some mythical land of dragons and evil, was as real as you or I. This realization came to me as I sat at my desk, starting my routine for the day. It didn't come as a shock, but as a revelation, a vision. This vision struck terror into my heart. As the phone began to ring, a chill alerted me to a presence that I have not felt for nigh on two years. That morning... So long ago. It was a cold night, but I slumbered in the warmth and security of my bed, safe in the knowledge that I was protected from the outside world. Encapsulated in the soft folds of my quilt, sleeping peacefully, I had not a concern in the world. It was then that It happened. The door flew open and I was assaulted and forced to rise.

"Wake up!" she yelled, "Wake up now for my sake!"

Not being one to argue I rose and raced down to where the family was congregated.

"You first," I heard. And as my hands fumbled with the shiny package that Christmas morning, I had the same realization I had today: "No Virginia, there is not really a Santa Claus, But there is a Nine in the morning."